Technical Machine launches new board and makes production easier

Technical Machine, a startup making a development boards for the internet of things, has launched a second generation product that has more power and better Wi-Fi. The Tessel 2 goes on sale today for $35 and will act more as a hub device mediating the inputs from a variety of sensors or other inputs. The board will ship in August.

Jon McKay, the CEO of Technical Machine, said in a few weeks the company plans to launch a lower-power version of a Tessel 2 board that will function more like a sensor device.

The idea of the board is to get web developers more accustomed to playing with code, comfortable taking their ideas for software and bringing them into the real world. With both Tessel boards they can now connect the web to a physical device — be it a sensor or something a bit more complicated like a display. McKay says companies such as Azure and SAP are using the boards in their data centers while other customers such as a doctor trying to prototype a wearable device and a company trying to increase insect protein production are also using the boards.

The companies building prototypes are a big market for the Tessel 2 and one that McKay is trying to better serve with this iteration. McKay designed the board to make it easier and cheaper to take it into limited production of a hundred to a couple thousand items, such as making sure that unused sections of the boards can be broken off to avoid wasting space, you can integrate modules into the PCB so they the connectors or more secure.

These efforts are part of several being attempted by companies in the burgeoning hardware sector to make manufacturing and prototyping easier. For example, when I covered the partnership between SnapEDA and Octopart I wrote:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]With the emergence of startups like the Toronto-based SnapEDA or the YCombinator startup Octopart, we’re seeing the evolution of hardware development that aims to be a bit more like software. Faster, more iterative and more responsive to the needs of a rapidly-changing marketplace. We won’t ever get to the speed of code, but it’s awesome to see the agility that’s common in software creeping its way into the hardware world as much as it can.[/blockquote]

With Tessel 2, programmers now can use these boards (currently they can program Tessel 2 in Node.js/io.js) to take their ideas for new hardware and turn them into reality without having to spent a lot of time learning a lot about hardware. The steps the Technical Machine team has taken to make getting prototypes to production easier means that the software developers using the boards get an even longer runway when it comes to learning about hardware. This will only help let good ideas mature a bit further and broaden the scope of what the internet of things will make possible.

Technical Machine is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom.

Boston accelerator to focus on connected devices

Bolt, a new accelerator coming to the Boston area, will focus on startups wanting to build the “things” part of the internet of things. Ben Einstein, of Brainstream Design, wants Bolt to reduce barriers to entry for companies wanting to build actual physical products.